Star Wars: The Force Awakens is poised to be the most financially successful film of all time. It already broke records held by the likes of Titanic, is about to push Avatar off the top of the list, and has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I saw it a few weeks ago and had a smile on my face start to finish. I was never bored, always involved… and isn’t that what entertainment is supposed to do?
Like I said, I ultimately dug the movie. So, am I wrong for pointing out some things that didn’t work? When J.J. Abrams took the reigns, I was stoked. I liked what he did to the Star Trek franchise, even though he dumbed down the philosophical bent in favor of action and adventure. I had a feeling he’d be a great fit for Star Wars. So what, if anything, did the movie get wrong? Well, just look around the internet and you’ll find plenty of folks pointing out plot holes and such. For me, I only really cared about these five things – which did not stop me from enjoying the movie. Did I say that already?
5. It borrows too heavily from the original – Abrams does everything he can to drop allusions to the original trilogy. Wide desert shots, cantina scenes, planet shaped weapons, messages hidden in droids, villains in masks, the list goes on. Once again our hero must get behind enemy lines to flick the switch that allows good guys to pounce a single point of failure. Kylo is basically emo Darth Vader and BB-8 is Beenie-Baby R2D2. These things bring familiarity to the fore, but familiarity can be the enemy of science fiction. And yes, I know there’s a whole other debate on whether Star Wars is Sci-Fi or Fantasy. For more on that, click HERE.
4. Finn the token Stormtrooper – It’s a step in the right direction to focus on a black cast member, no doubt, and Finn is infinitely more likable than that smarmy Lando Calrissian. John Boyega brings a contemporary delivery to his lines that feels fresh in this universe. So why make him a sanitation worker? And if he’s in sanitation, why does he have a gun on the front lines in the first scene? And how come he doesn’t seem to be very good at anything? For a guy raised to be a Stormtrooper, he seems to know very little about what they do for a living. His battle with Kylo doesn’t go half as well as Rey’s, and he’s literally unconscious at the end of the movie (spoiler alert!), which is another nostalgic allusion to Han at the end of Empire. This character needed to be a little less Mace Windu and a little more Jules Winnfield.
3. Stormtroopers are only good at dying. Who is teaching Stormtroopers how to shoot? Marty Feldman? If we’re to believe these guys are stolen from their families and then rigorously trained, why can’t they hit the broad side of a barn with a bowling ball? And I guess only Captain Phasma gets a metal suit. All the other Stormtroopers are still in white plastic. Apart from a moist towelette, what does this protect them from? Blasters and lightsabers cut right though. These guys need to unionize.
2. The force is inconsistent. One of the best applications of the force comes when Kylo Ren freezes a phaser blast in mid air. Anyone with that kind of imagination can surely think of more creative ways to tear apart his adversaries. Can’t he just pull the lightsabers out of Finn and Rey’s hands and hibachi them into steaming chunks? If he’s not going to simply collapse their lungs, can’t he at least just lift them into the air and leave them there? Man, if I had the force I would take advantage of it. There’s very few people I wouldn’t at least pants.
1. Rey uses the force too easily. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this, and I share them. She doesn’t even know what the force is, yet starts using it like a pro. I know she may be Luke’s daughter (spoiler alert!) but come on! At least they could have foreshadowed this a bit. Maybe subtly elude to her using minor mind control tricks early on, in the guise of feminine charms, perhaps. Instead she’s doing stuff Luke couldn’t have dreamed of until after a two week intensive on Dagobah.
Regardless of these complaints, The Force Awakens is full of fun and it does a good job tugging at the heart strings of anyone that felt sentimental about the original. In that way, it’s way more successful than the prequels. Still, sentimentality is only going to work for so long. There’s a host of other Star Wars movies slated for the coming years and they have a chance to breathe more life into the franchise. That is once they get the next movie, Rogue 1, out of the way. It’s about resistance fighters stealing plans for the Death Star. Oy vey.